Customizable Agricultural Robot Can Tackle Labor ShortagesCustomizable Agricultural Robot Can Tackle Labor Shortages
The Agrofelis robot can be customizable to an individual farm’s needs and easily reproducible to help farmers cut costs
September 21, 2023
A new multi-purpose agricultural robot has been unveiled, designed to battle ongoing labor shortages and high productivity demands in the agricultural industry.
The Agrofelis Robot, developed by a software engineer and hacker that goes by the handle kp, is designed as an automated farm hand and can be integrated with a range of sensors including lidar, motion sensors and cameras, as well as specific tools such as turbine sprayers, grass cutters and other tools.
The robot was unveiled in a video on YouTube, reportedly developed in response to pressures on the agricultural industry from “declining demographics, economic disparities, rising energy costs and supply chain disruptions in the West.”
“In the agricultural sector, farmers are experiencing growing difficulty finding seasonal farm workers while also having to deal with the escalating costs of cultivation, which results in marginal profits, unharvested crops, and even abandoned farms,” kp said. “To combat these hurdles, there is an urgent need for an affordable and efficient platform that bridges the gap between traditional tractors and handheld tools and multiplies an unskilled farm worker's productivity.”
Agrofelis is designed for production at “the lowest possible cost,” prioritizing accessibility and versatility across use cases. It also uses an open source, programmable framework to make it easily customizable for an individual farm’s needs.
The robot’s body is designed to be easily replicated at any local workshop, using affordable materials and a simple design that can then be built upon with various sensors as needed. The robot can carry up to 550 pounds of equipment.
“Existing vehicles on the market that can serve as adaptable platforms for various tasks are either prohibitively expensive or just not available,” kp said. “It is essential to offer the ability of manufacturing a low-cost base vehicle within local machine shops, in single units or small volumes, that has a small footprint, is energy dense and agile and holds the potential to tackle localized challenges in agriculture and public safety sectors.”
While typically agricultural robotic systems use satellite positioning systems such as RTK GNSS (Real-Time Kinematic Global Navigation Satellite Systems), Agrofelis solely uses lidar for its navigation. By removing reliance on any external signals, the team said the system is more reliable and can be combined with odometers, cameras and IMUs for increased efficiency.
Beyond agricultural applications, the team also said the robot could be used for firefighting use cases, offering an automated assistant to emergency service crews that can carry provisions such as water or sensors to increase monitoring capabilities in an affected area.
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